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Do Airports Have Brands?


AuthorSitting at gate A10 this morning in STL, I was watching the world and interesting people walk by and started thinking about the Dollar Shave Club Guy and when TWA ruled the St. Louis airport and airspace.

See, the DSCG came out of a marketing and ad agency background and from what I understand, had an ah-ha moment a few years back about getting shaving tools and advice and realized that 4 out of 5 dentists agree that most men have no clue as to what they are buying and why. The world of shaving and razors is mechanical and part of a routine on weekdays to look presentable. DSCG understood that and wanted to reinvent the shaving wheel – and based on the fact that Unilever acquired the company for approximately 1 Billion dollars, he figured something out.

AuthorIn part, he figured out brand, education of the average Joe, and a clever financial model to get your shaving stuff. I have no idea if the product is good or bad but the business model he created is intriguing and the fact is – they reinvented a category. One thing that stood out (or dumb-lucked into) was one clever viral video. The Rube Goldberg of office tour videos complete with a bear costume, a lady working this week, and reportedly all done in one take! We make some (hopefully) educational and entertaining videos, but DSCG knocked it out of the park. So, he created brand and that brand is now driving other players into the market.
Here is the point where I uttered “Hmmm.” (literally – yes, I was the weird dude muttering to himself at A10). “Do airports have brands?” I guess so, but most don’t really face a plethora of competition – I mean airports are not like car dealers, where you go to the corner of Main St. and Hoffmann Dr. and see five airports like you do car dealerships. Airports are, in many ways, practical exit and entry points – sure they need decent lighting, HVAC, a Sbarro, restrooms, and well, I do like a nice shoe-shine stand.
AuthorSo on one hand, I walk through airports in predominantly zombie mode – arriving and leaving in hopes of no conversation, but ask me my favorite airport and I can toss three out very fast – TF Green in Providence, Minneapolis (MSP), and John Wayne in Orange County. All for different reasons like character, convenience, and different spins on creature comforts (or in the case of John Wayne – perfect weather – all year long.)
I don’t know if it is possible to reinvent the category beyond investments in the infrastructure like at JFK or LAX, but the expansions have added more creature comforts, chair massage places, and much, much, much better food choices. I can even call out some favorite places to eat in airports but it is now time to get on the plane and see how fast I can fall asleep.
So, airports – do they have brands? – I guess so, but certainly within some limitations and parameters – well, at least for now – maybe the DSCG will take a stab at reinventing the airport experience like the shave experience but maybe not. If Unilever paid a Billion, I bet he is not exactly flying coach anymore. Well done DSCG, well done.
About the Author
Dave Brown is the Vice President of Sales at Optima™.
He has been in the Trade Show industry since the early 90s.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, other Authors, Optima Graphics or Taylor Corp.

AuthorAuthor
  1. February 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Airports most definitely have brands. In markets where there is a lot of competition for business, both for passenger and cargo, it can get pretty interesting. Here in Chicago, we have MDW, ORD, and MKE that compete for passengers and for cargo. RFD (the airport with free parking) chimes into the mix with a major focus on branding and marketing.

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